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31 December 2009
30 December 2009
29 December 2009
28 December 2009
27 December 2009
My father is not big on Christmas. He has his reasons for this, but the only years that he actually seemed to enjoy Christmas were the years when he had preschool children in his house.
It's not too well-known that the Grinch has a brother, generally known as the Grunch. Rather than settling near Hooville with his brother (who he couldn't stand, anyway), the Grunch decided to live a life of relative obscurity in Greenfield, Indiana, and raise a family. He tried, he really did, to get into Christmas and indeed all holidays, but alas, when there were no small children to bring him amusement any longer, his Grunch-like ways resumed.
He didn't want to get a Christmas tree. He didn't like singing Christmas carols. He really didn't like having to go to school Christmas programmes. All the normal television was messed up for Christmas. What's more, he didn't always get to take his vacation time during Christmas, and when he did, it was usually too cold to do any projects around the house that he wanted to do, so he was stuck inside playing board games with the Grunch children. Boring board games. He did enjoy watching A Christmas Carol so he could "humbug" right along with Mr. Scrooge, and certainly enjoyed Christmas Vacation, just so he could have a laugh.
So, after being raised by such a Grunch, what's a Grunch child to do? I've tried going overboard for Christmas. I've tried going underboard for Christmas. But we've pretty much settled on this easygoing, lighthearted celebration that Chad & I now enjoy.
But beware; one never knows when I might go Griswold all over my house. Or Grunchy.
26 December 2009
25 December 2009
1. Tone down the gift-giving.
I'm not a parent, but I used to be a kid. And most of my friends are parents. And I have read one article after another in one magazine after another about "How do I keep my kid from being so selfish around Christmas?" And heard my aforementioned friends moaning about the same thing. And hey, I remember making my own Christmas list every year as a kid, too.
Call me crazy, but I'd say the way to keep your kid (and yourself) from a) acting selfish b) focusing entirely on Santa or c) completely forgetting about Jesus is: Don't encourage the opposite. I know a handful of families who have managed to do this. I'm looking forward to trying it myself.
Besides, it hardly adds to our reputation among the world for Christians to go to the store, buy hundreds of dollars' worth of stuff that the kids will play with a few times, then berate the clerk for saying "Happy Holidays".
On the other hand, a "Merry Christmas!" or "God bless you!" in reply, given with a cheery smile and sincerely meant, and certainly accompanied by a "Thank you!", might just go a long way.
2. Bar Santa from the house.
Yep, here's the unpopular one. And I admit if you have children between 3 and 10-ish who have always had Santa, this is probably not a route you will be able/willing to take. But you know the families I mentioned in idea #1? Yeah, they do this, too.
Seriously, I get so annoyed at people who lament a) the condition our country is in b) how sad it is that we don't acknowledge Jesus at Christmas any longer and/or c) how materialistic the U.S. has become, then follow it all up by showing me pics of their kids with Santa. I smile and nod, but inside I'm screaming: You can't have it both ways!!! And I really believe that you can't.
And this one does have some personal experience attached: I was so devastated when I found out about Santa. I held on to believing for a long time-- much longer than kids normally do-- because I didn't think my parents would tell me something that wasn't true. I was really upset when I found out that Oh, yes, they would. I just don't see how I can expect my children to accept that Santa is a story but Jesus is real, when I spend the first few years of their life presenting both as the truth. It works for some, apparently, but I'm not one of them.
3. Really celebrate Jesus.
See? An easy one! Celebrate Advent in your house. Take your kids shopping for needy families, instead of for themselves. Give them money to put in the Salvation Army boxes. Put a nativity scene in your yard (or better yet, your living room). Talk about Hanukkah when it comes around, and what it means for both Jews and Christians. Read Luke 2 & The Gift of the Magi on Christmas Eve. Go to a Christmas Eve service. And so on, and on, and on...
Jesus is not the reason for the season, for the Christian; Jesus is The Reason. For everything. We don't have to put Christ in Christmas if he is already a year-round part of our lives.
May the Lord bless and keep you as you celebrate today and every day.
24 December 2009
18 December 2009
16 December 2009
15 December 2009
So! After energetically tweeting my enthusiasm for all the world to read all day long on Thursday, we saw the real, live Trans-Siberian Orchestra on Thursday night. Sort of. We were a looooooong way from the stage. But no matter; the sound & light systems worked just fine.
There really aren't a lot of words for how spectacular this concert really was. "Wow. I tell you what, Wow!" That pretty much sums it up. The light show was so uber-fantastic; it was a bit like being stuck inside one of those lightning ball things. You know, the ones you put your fingers on & get the static electricity all going crazy? Those. Only in a wide variety of colours.
There was also some fire, which we could feel the heat of all the way up in the ceiling where we were sitting. Pretty dang impressive.
The singers? Crazy-amazing. Violinists? Uber-energetic. Guitarists? Super-fantastic. Keyboard? Drums? Light crew? Ditto. I'm surprised smoke didn't come off the keyboarder's fingers, she was playing that thing so fast & furious.
So it was getting kind of late, and the lead singer said something along the lines of, "I know it's a school night, but... Wanna hang out?" Of course, the arena screams. "Whaddya say, a couple of more songs?" More screaming ensues... and TSO crashes into "Wizards In Winter". And the arena goes wild once more. I admit it, I screamed & clapped, too.
Come back soon, TSO!! I miss you already, and your CDs don't quite cut it for me now.
So, my baby sister is 27. Sheesh.
And apparently I'm responsible for all her brain damage, since when she was born I thought she was one of my dolls, and would carry her around until our mother rescued her from having the oxygen to her brain cut off. Sorry, Neesee!
14 December 2009
Yep, that's how long I have until the gun goes off at the Austin Marathon. And all I have to say is: Yikes!!
I'm excited. I am so, so excited. Part of me can hardly wait.
Another part of me (specifically, the parts that are still hurting after yesterday's 18-miler) wishes I still had about six months to go.
Next Sunday, I run my first 20-mile training run. I'm torn between absolutely dreading the pain that goes with that kind of mileage, and exhilaration at the fact that I can actually do it. How did this happen? Seriously, I was the fat & slow girl who ran like a duck in P.E. People quacked behind me in the school hallways for four years. (Okay, I still run like a duck. And Chad brings back fond memories by quacking when he runs behind me.)
I've heard (from other runners) that getting into the hard part of marathon training makes you a complete germaphobe. And oh my goodness, is it ever happening to me. I am very much a "rub some dirt on it" kind of girl, but I'm already planning my all-out assault on all germs in my vicinity for the next two months. If you're sick, I'm very sorry to hear it; please stay back 100 yards. Don't even think the word "sneeze" while reading my blog.
No worries, I'll be back to my germ-tolerating self on February 15th. Until then, watch me become ever more crazy. 1497 hours, 42 minutes.
08 December 2009
This is due in large part to my own desire to create things, of course. New baby? I have just the cross-stitch for you. You need a blanket? I'm on it. You have multi-coloured paper, fun scissors, and stamps? One birthday card, coming up. Your door needs a Christmas wreath? No problem.
You want me to draw you a picture? I hope you like stick figures.
This is, after all, the way I show my affection for people: I make them things. I may think you are the greatest person on the planet, but it's not likely I'll ever say so. No, instead I'll cross-stitch you something cute and write a nice card, and stick it in your car when you're not looking. Yeah, I'm that kind of reserved. Sorry, I'm doing my best to be an extrovert.
And being a person of faith, I know the source of all this creativity. The God who made the sky blue and the trees green and the snow white and the flowers in all colours gave the same zest for making things to me. He made us in his image, but that's doesn't mean we are all alike: my creativity manifests itself in crafts. Other people have paintings or music or basketball or working on cars or programming computers or writing or teaching or cooking or acting or dancing... and the list goes on. And it all springs from a God who loves creativity.
You don't have to agree (and goodness knows there are plenty who don't!). But when I see the spark of the creative in you, I see the Lord. And I hope he is shining through me, too.
04 December 2009
01 December 2009
I took the morning off work, just because I can. And guess what time I woke up? 6:30. Yep, could have slept to 11, but my brain was all spinning again at 6:30 AM. Aaaargh.
So, I have cookbooks to sort through, pics to upload, an apartment to clean, and running to do. I am not in any way going to attempt to do all those things before noon. Also, I keep reading that there is snow outside, but so far it isn't showing its very cold face around here.
So, Happy Tuesday!
30 November 2009
I have lots of caffeine in my system, which is the result drinking so much caffeinated tea today, which is due to MANY days with not enough sleep. Man, I love sleep. I'll be glad to have that back.
I always have fun at the tea. I mean, I get the microphone. What isn't fun about that? The centre of attention is a fun place to be for us narcissistic types. :) I can't believe I'm the same girl who used to hide behind people & wouldn't raise my hand in class for fear I'd actually have to say something.
Anyway... speaking of narcissists... yeah. Where was I? The tea. So it's fun for me regardless. I hope it is that much fun for everyone else, too.
Tonight, we had so many people, it took about 45 minutes to get them through the food line. Which put us 30 minutes behind. So, we had to cut a game and some singing. Which was a real bummer.
And... this was my last time. I announced that next year, we need a new chairwoman. It is hard letting it go-- after all, this has been my baby for three years running now-- but it's time for someone with more ideas to get a chance. And this time next year, there is no telling what I will be doing.
I love South Plains. I love the Womens' Ministry. I really, really love the Ladies' Tea. But I hope someone else can take it and make it even better.
And I made Ruth promise that South Plains won't have another five-year hiatus between teas. Because the last gap was much, much too long.
29 November 2009
However! The Family Life Center is set up, with 20 tables (!) for adults, three for children, and a few to hold prizes, just for fun. Thanks to the efforts of the most fantabulous tea committee ever assembled, the room looks very Christmas-y indeed. We even have a red carpet laid down, to let our guests know how special they are.
Just over 21 hours until we launch... the only thing remaining is for me to not say anything stupid. That may be asking too much in just 21 hours.
Angels? We have (a) herd.
You can almost see Ruth & I in this picture. Yep, the red carpet ends at us. Aren't you lucky?
28 November 2009
Before writing this, I went back and checked out my race recap from the Turkey Trot in 2007. I have not in any way forgotten that race; I was cold, sore, and miserable, not to mention painfully slow-moving. But when I reread my thoughts from the next day, all I can think is "Wow." We were brand-new to the club then; we only knew a few people; and I wasn't thinking of ever running anything longer than 10 miles (if that!). And most astonishing of all, I had only run about 6 1/2 miles in one go before that race, and my longest race to date had been a 5K. Our running, our friendships with others in the club, and our (okay, my-- Chad already had his sights on a half-marathon at this point) ideas of how far we can run have changed dramatically in the past two years. I don't know that I've ever had any area of my life change that much in such a short time... and yet, here I am!
So, race recap... Sarah & I ran together again. I'm a bit wary of running with others, just because I hate to slow anyone else down. (And Sarah has longer legs than I do; it's not likely she'll ever slow me down!) We went out too fast, as I ever do, so I did have to slow it up a bit in the middle.
Hills! My goodness, there were a bunch! Okay, this was not a surprise, but I've not been training on hills, because I'm silly, so I was having to chant "up and over" to myself a lot. Admittedly, these hills were easier than the ones I ran on two weeks ago.
So, there is one hill leading to the final turnaround, with less than a mile to go. I think it's probably the easiest hill in the entire course, but coming at the end, it's still tiring and a bit discouraging to anyone who is already struggling. Thankfully, this was not me this time around, because I was wearing a watch and was elated at how fast we were running without me wanting to drop down dead. So we got up & over, and I said hello to Chad at the turnaround (he was volunteering) and then threw my gloves to him, because I was done with them.
Coming down the hill was fantastic. First, running downhill is just fun. Second, there were a lot of people behind us. A lot. Normally, this is not something I rejoice in (because I've had my share of races when I am dead last or pretty close to it), but I was amazed. Third, we were nearly done. So, I've got a big silly grin on my face, and I was shouting encouragement (I thought) to those still struggling to get up to the top. I yelled "Almost there!" to a group of women who were most emphatically not grinning, meaning they were almost to the turnaround. One of them shouted back, "We are not!" so I guess she didn't appreciate my encouragment.
It's kind of an annoying thing to runners that people shout "Almost there!" at dumb moments, like mile 16 of a marathon (10 miles to go), or the 10K point of a half marathon (not even halfway!). But really, with less than a mile to go, you ARE almost there. So, I'm not sure why this poor woman wasted her breath to answer me back.
The next group of runners seemed a bit happier, so when I told them "Last hill!" I got a "Woohoo" in return. Okay, they had much more breath left than I did. :)
So, down the hill, round the corner, under the bridge, into a parking lot, and over the finish line with Scotland the Brave playing in my ears. And a 14-minute PR for me. No medals this time, but I got 1 point in the challenge series! Woo hoo! Actually, the 3rd place plaque in the 30-34 age group is solidly mine; the woman in 4th place doesn't have enough races left to catch me in the points. Now, I am going for another 66-Mile Club t-shirt. I have 3.75 miles to go; we have one 4-mile race remaining. Talk about cutting it close.
The most we've ever had RSVP ahead of time is about 55. The most we've had turn up is about 85. Part of me is worried we won't have enough tables set up, while the rest of me is concerned about a lot of empty tables staring at me come Monday night.
The food will be good, the fellowship will be sweet, the games will be fun, the laughter will be, um, hysterical, if the past couple of years are anything to go by-- and in the meantime, I will be in high-stress mode.
Stay tuned... it's coming faster than I would like.
27 November 2009
It's not a hobby I give a lot of time to, mind you, but I do find so many things about languages fascinating. How they evolve, how they work, what makes this word better than that one, and so on-- it's all interesting. Here's a fun one for you: When I was learning Scots Gaelic, I learnt the phrase "Is math sin", which is pronounced "Ish ma shin", which sounds like "Smashing", which in Scotland is slang for "Good", which just happens to be what "Is math sin" means. Cool, eh?
As it happens, English is the language I have the most fun with, being as it is my native language and all. I've never had to work hard at English, which I'm pretty sure annoys other people to no end, but it's easy for me. (Hey, I have to put hours and hours into maths & sciences. Leave me alone.)
And therefore, it annoys me that I have a hard time with "farther" and "further". This is not an uncommon struggle; you will find this pairing on most lists of frequently confused words. But, I'm not used to confusing words. Give me "affect" and "effect" or "lie" and "lay" any day, and I've got you covered. And even more annoying is this: I know the difference between "farther" (refers to literal distance) and "further" (refers to figurative distance or degree) perfectly well; it's when applying them in everyday speech & writing that I have issues.
So here is where the real problem lies: I've never had to work at English, so I've no idea how to imprint all this knowledge onto my brain in order to make it habit. Sigh.
26 November 2009
So, Barnes & Noble! Yeah, we got a new one, just about a quarter mile north of where the old one was. The new one has two floors, comfy-looking chairs (I didn't actually try any of them), free wifi, and the ubiquitous Starbucks (didn't try that, either). Oh, and one long escalator just going up, and one even longer coming down. And, as a bonus, there is a mall outside their doors, too.
So, I wandered over to the running section first, as it my wont, and found an amusing little book called I Run, Therefore I Am- Nuts. I think I'll have to buy that book; it made me giggle a lot just from the couple of chapters I read. After a casual wander round the ground floor (which included spotting The Book of Completely Useless Information, or something like that-- story of my life), I took the escalator up. I wanted to take the stairs, but, um, there weren't any.
I then hit all the other high points of any visit to a bookstore-- the craft section (which looked exactly like a craft section should, by the way; all the books are different sizes, so there was no nice & tidy sitting evenly on the shelf here), the scifi section (which has the largest selection of Terry Pratchett books I've ever seen outside of the UK), and the children's section (alas, here I was disappointed).
Unless I am very much mistaken, the children's section was pretty much the same as in the old store. I was hoping for more, but-- no. Sigh. And the Spanish children's books had just as meager a selection as before. I'm thinking I'll have to make a trip to Mexico to get children's books in Spanish that don't include Dora.
Also, I saw a book called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Now, if that isn't a winner, I don't know what is.
25 November 2009
It's a bit odd for me to think of this show that has be so influential in the lives of millions of children as being 40 years old. Firstly, I think, "Only 40 years? Really? How is it that no one thought of this programme before 1969?" But my next thought is, "Forty years? But it still seems so new!"
And I imagine both thoughts are correct.
Since I have younger siblings, I watched Sesame Street much longer than is the "norm". Which means that when I run across an episode, it's like seeing childhood friends from school, rather than half-remembered preschool pals. Gordon and Susan, Mr. Hooper, Luis and Maria, Bob, Linda-- put me in a room with these people, and I'd be as delirious as a tween seeing the cast of New Moon. By golly, you'd better have something handy for them to autograph.
And the Muppets-- holy smokes. I have too many favourites. My Sesame Street days pre-dated Elmo by quite a bit, although I do remember when Snuffy might have been Big Bird's imaginary friend. Oscar, Grover, Bert & Ernie, Guy Smiley, Prairie Dawn, Kermit, Count, The Two-Headed Monster-- I love them all. My favourite, though-- my absolute, unmistakable, could-watch-these-guys-all-day favourites are the Yip Yips. I have days when I approach the entire world pretty much like the Yip Yips: "Not home. Nope. Yip yip yip yip yip yip yip uh-huh." I can see my work environment getting suddenly more entertaining if I spoke to my coworkers that way.
And then there were the cartoons. Teeny Little Super Guy, The Typewriter, the Pinball machine that counted to 12-- I still can't count to 12 without singing the song. And who could ever forget "a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter."
I hope this show lasts to its 100th anniversary-- and beyond.
24 November 2009
So, I had one final morning of sleeping in (man, do I miss that!) before heading out for another round of visits-- this time, it was the shops that had my attention. Marsh had the Snapple I wanted (By the way, best stuff on Earth? They aren't kidding!); Wal-Mart had the Tetley. So, we had to go to both. And the very friendly cashier at WM took a huge step over the gulf that has long existed between me and nationwide chain stores (and Wal-Mart in particular) when, upon noticing that I had enough Tetley to last me for the next six months, she said, "Now, did you know you can order anything at Wal-Mart and have it shipped to your local store?"
As it happens, I did know that, but it had never occured to me that they meant tea when they said that; I though it was stuff like flat-panel TVs. No, apparently I can get myself a box of Tetley delivered to my Lubbock WM, which for me is so local that it is within walking distance. Brilliant.
So after this jolly discovery, we took Grandma back home, and tried to go see another of our three dozen cousins, but we had no luck, because she works nights & was sound asleep when we went to her house. This is probably just as well, really; I would feel pretty guilty getting her up for 20 minutes' worth of chitchat.
After that, it was a whirl of throwing all my stuff back into the suitcase, saying goodbye & thank you to Grandma, and loading it all up in Dad's truck. Then we had to go to Mum's work to say goodbye to her (and I got to meet the boss), then a stop by McDonald's so Denise could deliver something & we could get some lunch, then off to the airport. By the way, Indianapolis has a beautiful airport.
The security people stopped me so they could measure my scissors! Man, all the fun stuff happens to me at airport security.
Northwest Airlines sent me to Detroit first, for reasons passing understanding. I have to say that while I would have preferred a more direct route, it was worth it (almost) to have a look at the Detroit airport. Another beautiful building. I walked the entire length of Terminal A because I had three hours to just hang out.
And whatever my grievances against Northwest Airlines (and believe me, I have a list), their pilots are brilliantly good at landing. Every landing I experienced this weekend was so very smooth, and a couple of them I wasn't sure for a second if we were actually on the ground or if it was just turbulence. That's how smooth it was. This is in contrast to our Continental landing last summer, when I'm pretty sure we were shot down.
23 November 2009
Billy wanted pizza for dinner (it was his birthday, after all), so we went to Cici's. This is a favourite of my husband as well as my brother, so I was right at home, but I was not prepared for the awe that my father had for such a thing as pizza buffets. Yeah, he doesn't get out much.
I was all in a dither on Sunday morning, because we normally go to early service, but Greenfield only has one and it is at 10:45. Turns out, I can sleep in with the best of them, but it was still odd for me. Saw friends and loved ones, and heard yet again my favourite thing to hear when visiting this church where I grew up: "You're Billy & Denise's sister? I didn't know they had another sister!" Apparently, my existence is a well-kept secret. At least, that's what Denise said when I asked her why so many people in Greenfield act surprised to meet me.
After some earnest discussion about what to have for lunch (and the rather unhappy discovery that Marsh does not have decaf British Blend Tetley), we landed back at Grandma's eating tacos. Beef tacos, which is odd, again, after eating turkey tacos for the past five or so years.
Then, it was off on a round of visits: Jenny's parents, Billy & the kids (to say goodbye, since I wouldn't see them on Monday), the other Grandma (Dad's mum), then Amanda. Yep, I went to see Amanda at 10 PM. I haven't gone to see anyone at 10 PM since I was an aim student.
And then I went back to Grandma's, annoyed Denise for a few minutes, and went to bed.
22 November 2009
Jennie & I took a wrong turn before we got to the park & had to turn around. You'd think a state park would be better-marked, but you would be wrong. Once we got there, we knew we were in the right place because of the long queue of cars waiting to get in. And there was one lonely park ranger having to take every car's entrance fee & hand out change. Fortunately, he didn't have to give directions, because it was pretty evident where we were supposed to go.
Greenfield-Central (that was my high school, for those keeping score at home) brought five students & four coaches, all of whom ran the 15K. I know this because I spoke to one of the coaches at the start line... and that was the last I saw of any of them. Yep, I'm slow. They were not.
The course was absolutely fantastic. Yeah, I wasn't kidding when I said the hills kicked my bum. But the start was so lovely; all the fall leaves on the ground, the air was fresh, the dew was still on the grass; if I didn't know better, I'd have said it was an April morning, not November. But, it was just over a quarter of a mile into the race when we hit the first uphill, and my word, it never stopped.
The mile markers were spray-painted in orange on the ground. I missed the 1-mile mark because I didn't realise that was what I was supposed to be looking for. The turnaround for the 15K was at a horse barn, and the spray-painter, in what was either a public service or a source of personal amusement for him/her, had circled a rather large pile of horse doo. (Had it been me wielding the can, it would have been entirely for my amusement.)
Jennie, by the way, had a brilliant first 5K. She went into the race thinking that I would be done before her (silly sister-in-law; she thinks I can run fast! Boy, did I show her!), which was kind, but not at all an accurate picture of reality. By her own account, she went out too fast, then hit the first hill. And all the leaves, dirt, and other things that made the morning so fresh & appealing for me caused her allergies to do a fandango inside her lungs, so that she had to slow down quite a bit by mile 3. And then when she did finish, she was stuck standing around waiting for me. But, the running community is nothing if not gregarious (once we all finish running, that is), so by the time I was done she was talking to someone about her shin splints. I still feel bad that I left her in a crowd of strangers for nearly an hour, but I am delighted that she had such an open-arms welcome from other runners, even as Chad & I had two years ago at our own first race.
We got some t-shirts to commemorate our adventure, and stood around for the awards, hoping to snag some door prizes. (No joy there, at least not for me; Jennie got a hat for Billy, 'cause it was much too big for her head.) And on the way home, we stopped for a very tasty drink at Taco Bell. Frutista Freeze, maybe? Great stuff.
21 November 2009
We got to the school uber-early, because my family can only show up early for things that it's not actually important that we show up early for. You see, they were under the impression that if we got there early, we could get better seats. I didn't bother telling them that your seat was assigned when you bought the ticket, because experience has taught me that there is no point trying to argue with my father or grandmother. Besides, saying "I told you so" is a lot more fun when I didn't actually tell them so, but they think that I did. Ha!
So, I kept the kids busy by walking laps around the school, regaling them with (really boring) tales from when it was my school, and explaining the things that were different ("This used to be at the other end of the building; through here was tile, not carpet; I used to go to class in that room, back when it was a room", etc.). Then the doors were opened, and in we went. It took a minute to collect Grandma from the wrong side of the room and bring her back to where we belonged, and even longer to get everyone settled, and longer still for the girl in front of Denise & I to believe that we were covering our mouths when we sneezed, and weren't sneezing directly into her hair. (If only I were joking.)
So, the show was fantastic. Peter Pan is very interactive, and this version was no exception; we were drawn into the show with jokes, gags, and pirates running wild through the audience. Amanda, as I already mentioned, was the cutest Indian ever. Plus, she had enough beads on her costume for all the others combined; quite literally, as only one other Indian had any. But, the abundance of beads made it easy for the kids to spot her, since they've only seen her a couple of times & don't really know who she is.
Did I mention the flower? No? Well, there is a very old tradition at GC that the drama parents (or someone) sell flowers for the students. You write a message, hand over a dollar, and the thespian of your choice gets an encouraging (and pretty) message during intermission. Well, that's almost what happened; I guess intermission was busy, none of the students got their flowers, and therefore Amanda didn't know that I was there until after the show, when she saw Grandma waving frantically at her. And me, standing beside Grandma. The look that came over her face was priceless; if only I'd had the camera handy. Surprise!
Also, I had a chance to chat with the choir director, who is one of only a handful of teachers left from my schooldays. (Yep, I finished 'em off!) She thinks Amanda is wonderful, too. And rightly so.
20 November 2009
And then I woke up again. Oh, did you think I could sleep on a moving plane? Silly! As soon as the sun came up, I gave up on the whole sleep thing altogether and began working on my wreath. The flight attendant stopped to watch for a second, and said, "I haven't done that in years!" Apparently these peppermint wreaths were quite the rage a decade or so ago. Who knew?
Landed in Memphis, found out my next gate was directly across from my first gate & that I had 45 minutes to go 10 feet, so I went hunting for some food. Met a really nice woman with a beautiful accent who is from Louisiana. (Can I just add that I am meeting people from Louisiana everywhere I go? It's not really a surprise, what with Katrina scattering New Orleans residents all over the map, but I was expecting it to level off by now.)
One more flight, landed in Indy (smoothest landing ever; great job, pilot!), and my bag was already circling the carousel by the time I got down to baggage claim. Collected the bag, Dad and Denise, and then we had an amusing game of I Think We Parked On This Row. Once that was all settled, away we went.
Had lunch at Steak & Shake (and I highly recommend the Guacamole Burger), went to Grandma's, tried to finish one of the quilts, got the thread all jumbled up in the bobbin, and gave it up. Grandma said she would finish them both off for me in time for Christmas. Thanks, Grandma!
Collected the kids, ate some spaghetti (why I can't cook spaghetti like Grandma does I shall never know; she always gets the texture perfect), then got all dressed up for Peter Pan.
19 November 2009
So, I added to my blogroll again (BKing (no, that isn't short for Burger King or biking)-- go check it out), because I can't get enough of other people's words. I'm a reader. I've been a reader for so long, I don't remember not being able to read. (Thank you, Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, & Electric Company. Especially Electric Company.) I've always dreamed of being a writer, but the truth is, my best writing has always been tinted with others' words. And I'm pretty sure that's called plagarism. Bummer.
But I look at my blogroll, and see names of people I've known for a long time, some I've known for a short time, and some I'll never know in person. And the name that jumped out at me tonight was Anne Ryder.
She hasn't posted in five months (or so Blogger says). She is a remarkably infrequent poster. I've never met her in person, not even long enough for an autograph. I likely never will. I should, in the interest of tidyness & keeping my blogroll under control, just take her off my list.
But I won't. Because when she posts, it's a good read. (I hope someone feels that way about my blog!) Sometimes, it's pure gold. And even if those things weren't true... she was one of my childhood heroes. Sesame Street characters aside, she may have been my first childhood hero-- and much more so than anyone on Sesame Street, because she is a real person, not a character. And I was still listening to her-- and looking forward to it-- on a daily basis, long after I lost interest in Big Bird and the Teeny Little Super Guy (even though he was pretty cool).
So, blog on, friends and strangers alike. I am waiting to read what you have to say.
15 November 2009
My littlest cousin is not so little any longer (she's been taller than me since she was, I don't know, 11?), but she is still dear to my heart. She's a band and drama nerd. She is uber-smart. She got her share of the pretty genes, and it's possible that she took mine, too. (I want those back, by the way!) She is cool, she is fun, and she is an all-around lovely person.
And since she is a senior in high school, and this weekend was her last musical in high school, and I had a free ticket on Northwest, I flew up to see Peter Pan. And my littlest cousin takes the "cutest Indian ever" award.
And tonight we watched the Colts win together. I'll add that to my "never thought I'd do that" list. (Watch the Colts, that is.)
14 November 2009
The race's website rated that hills as a 4 out of 5 on a difficulty scale, and they weren't kidding. They also said that you could stay dry when crossing a creek if you were careful. They may have been kidding about that.
This was my first time running on trails, and I am totally hooked. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of trails to run on in Lubbock.
Anyway, between trying not to fall into any ruts or turn my ankles on loose rocks, and stay out of the way of other runners, I am completely worn out. But hey, I got the PR I was looking for.
13 November 2009
12 November 2009
So tonight was Bunko night.
Women in the 1700s had tea parties. In the 1800s, it was quilting bees. In various decades throughout the 1900s, we had home parties for everything under the sun. In the 2000s, for me at least, it's Bunko.
We shriek. We laugh. We cry. We scream. We sing. Sometimes, all at once. The game is really just background for all the conversation going on.
And at the end, we all say goodnight and go home smiling. With prizes, no less.
We could solve a myriad of interpersonal relationship issues with a game of Bunko. Saving the world, one set of dice at a time.
11 November 2009
Which meant I also did a lot of explaining today. Because we in the US don't normally see poppies for Veterans' Day, and apparently "In Flanders Fields" is not on the required reading list in Texas schools. (And to judge by at least one comment I heard today, WWI is also not on the curriculum.)
But a local grocery store was handing them out this weekend, and while I missed out on that, I can Google "poppy" with the best of them, print one out, and pin it on. Which is what I did.
Veterans' Day, Armistice Day, Remembrance Day-- call it what you like. I call it a day for reflection, for sadness and for gratitude. A day to let our soldiers know they are appreciated. A day to honour those who will never hear our thanks. A day for wishing that the "War to End all Wars" had indeed been so. Alas that it was not.
10 November 2009
Okay, I do understand it if, like my parents, you live five miles from anything. I understand if you are mobility-impaired. I understand that not everyone can walk everywhere.
I don't understand people for whom the walk from their front door to their mailbox is almost too far.
Yes, this post has been inspired by my lovely walk to work today. And it was so lovely, that I want everyone else to try it once, just to see how nice it is. Not every day! Not necessarily to work, either; you can just as easily walk somewhere else. Just once! Just to try it!
I loved every episode of season four of Doctor Who. But possibly my favourite (favourites, actually; it was a two-parter) was the episode that involved a device on half the cars in the world which cut the emissions down to nothing. Totally cool idea, by the way; and the sooner we invent one, the better. The problem for the Doctor, of course, was that the devices could also be used to do the opposite; the aliens controlling the devices used them to produce human-choking chemical soup that happened to be perfect conditions for alien cloning. Bummer.
So the episode ends with cars parked in driveways throughout London, and neighbours happily chatting about walking to the shops instead of driving. It was a great scene, and gave this two-parter a serious bump on my "great episode!" scale.
I hope we do start walking. And I hope it doesn't take an alien invasion to convince us to do so.
09 November 2009
That's kind of wild, really; in the past two years, I've gone from "I'm never running that kind of distance" to "Hey, it's not so bad, really," to "I know-- how about I do a full marathon?" I don't know where this kind of insanity comes from.
So, a year ago yesterday I ran my first half. It was rough, mostly because I went out too fast. But I finished, and was so happy about that. I'm still happy about it, one year later.
Sadly, I won't be repeating that race this year. Which is really a bummer, because I wanted to have my revenge upon those hills. Chad is doing it, though, which should be entertaining.
I, meanwhile, will be chasing a new 15K PR. Shouldn't be too hard, since the old one has been around for a year and a half, and I've gotten quite a bit faster in that interval. We shall see!
08 November 2009
I don't know how you found me. I've been successfully avoiding you for years, even when everyone else has been seeking you out. I kept away from your and your ploys, but when I let my guard down, in you came. A plague upon you!
I would like my non-busy life back. Now. I am perfectly content to be unhurried, unbusyed, and unbothered. There are plenty of other people who will be happy to let you direct their lives, so just you go harry them instead for a while.
So, this is what I suggest: Go away. Only for a week or two, mind you; I will allow you to return on Thanksgiving Day. You can stay with us for the holidays (after all, that is your prime time of year), if you like. Five weeks of my life that you can busy on up to your little gremlin heart's content.
But, come January, you are gone. The marathon gremin is coming to stay for a six-week engagement on January 1st, and he will show you the door. Sorry to seem so harsh, but after all, he made reservations ahead of time.
Pack your bags, and I'll see you in a couple of weeks.
07 November 2009
Our office is not good at keeping up with our flag.
You see, like most other offices, we have a flag outside. And since there are no longer regulations regarding nighttime illumination, and there are such things as all-weather flags, the flag goes up on the pole & stays there until it is tatty. Such is the way of office flags, to judge by many of the ones I saw today.
When former President Ford died a couple of years ago, I got to the office one day and mentioned to our office manager that ours was the only flag in town not at half-mast, and that we should probably fix it. She ignored me. (In case anyone was wondering how much pull I have at my office, there is your answer.) Not until three or four people stopped by to complain that we had the only flag in town not at half-mast did the powers that be decide to do something about it.
Yesterday, someone stopped by to complain that we didn't have our flag at half mast. We corrected it right away, so I suppose we've learned something in the past couple of years. (I certainly have; I didn't waste breath telling anyone we needed to fix it.)
Our poor flag is so unfortunate; nothing ever happens to it unless someone stops to complain. It could be 13 strips of fabric loosely held together by a single thread, and we would probably never realise it if not for the flag police. (I call them that because, seriously, who stops at an office to go in & complain about the state of the flag? There must be an official position for that.)
And that gets me wondering about flags in general. I mean, what we have in this country is, as I've said, 13 strips of fabric sewn together. That makes 12 seams, or 12 weakest points for a flag to fray at. I'm sure that all-weather flags are made with the best thread available, but still, combine that many weak spots with the wind out here and you have a recipe for a very tattered flag.
Which is what happens. Most of the flags in this town have tattered edges. I guess that's a sign they've been doing their job. You won't catch me complaining.
06 November 2009
My next 15K: 8 days
Chad's half marathon: 8 days
Turkey Trot: 20 days
Christmas Tea: 24 days
Christmas: 49 days
My Anniversary: 56 days
Vancouver Olympics: 97 days
Austin Marathon: 99 days
And before you ask... no, I will not include your birthday in my countdown.
05 November 2009
Actually, I probably would have forgotten that the cost of buying a new bike from the good people at DFC included free adjustments for 90 days, but I woke up yesterday morning to a back tire that was extremely flattened. I think this is due to a mysterious object I ran over on Tuesday (swerved & missed it with the front tire; ran over it with the back one. Oops).
So, one new tire & one new screw for the over-the-tire rack later, and I'm back in business. And the nice young man also tightened up things that had come loose (I guess-- that's what he was supposed to do, anyway). So, my still-like-new bike is all ready to go tomorrow.
Also in the news today... I had a really good run this evening. The really good runs are the ones that keep me going back out again every day, even on the days that aren't really good.
And, since I know you are wondering: 100 days until I LOVE Austin!
04 November 2009
So, I was sitting in my college speech class about four and a half years ago. It was our first speech, and "introduce yourself" type thing, and the topics revolved around interesting things that happened on our birth day/month/year. Everything was rolling along smoothly and I already had earned my own grade, and was enjoying my classmates' speeches.
Then, this innocent young 20-year-old man got up, to tell us all about being born in 1984. In the course of his speech, he said (and I am not kidding), "1984 was the only year that the Winter and Summer games were held in the same year."
Cue me, falling out of my chair. Okay, not really, but I did a serious slump. Never mind that I can remember the 1984 Olympics (thank you, Mary Lou!), but these people couldn't even remember both games being held in the same year! It didn't change that long ago! 1994, to be exact, was the first year of separation!
Sigh. So at the end of class, in great Susan's-foot-in-mouth style, I asked, "So, does everyone over 25 feel really old now?" And in unison, the other six or so non-traditional students all answered, "Yes."
At least I wasn't alone. So my cautionary tale is this: When giving a speech, do some research first.
03 November 2009
The Vancouver Olympics are 100 days away. And I'd like to add my own "Huzzah!" to the myriads of cheers going up.
Yeah, I love the Olympics. Summer, winter, near, far, live, prerecorded... doesn't matter. I'll watch it all. The night of the opening ceremonies, I'll be... in Austin. Possibly watching, depending upon what the people we're staying with are doing. It's totally in their hands whether or not I watch the opening.
But the next day, I'll be watching. All day, while sitting in my hotel room with my feet up. You see, the Olympics open the weekend of the Austin marathon. Which, by the way, is 102 days away.
I don't keep up with most winter sports in non-Olympic years, mostly because it makes me cold just to watch. But I am sad we won't see Joey Cheek back again in the speed skating, because he so inspired me last time around by his committment to champion a cause (Right to Play). And something he said in an interview has stuck with me throughout my running journey to date:
Reporter: What's the hardest thing about being an Olympian?
Joey Cheek: Training until you throw up. Every day.
Mr. Cheek is now also working for Team Darfur, continuing to use what influence he has for the good of others. If that isn't enough to inspire me, then nothing else could possibly be, either.
I don't train nearly that hard. But the thought that others do makes me push myself when I'd rather lay down on the pavement and take a nap. Day 3 of the Vancouver Olympics will find me lining up at my own start line, putting my own training to the test, seeing if my own hopes will be fulfilled. I can't wait. And I hope I can do some good along the way.
(I don't know what is wrong with Blogger today. Please ignore the rather random formatting.)
02 November 2009
You see, I do a lot of running, cycling, and walking. Most of this city does a lot of driving. There's a bit of a conflict of cultures in that. And in the past couple of weeks, I've witnessed a lot of stupid driving that could (and in at least two cases, nearly did) jeopardise my life.
So, I produced a series of "pep talks" on Facebook to encourage the Lubbock drivers to stay in their lanes, observe traffic laws, and most importantly, actually see the pedestrians & cyclists out there. For reasons passing understanding, it is widely accepted that drivers do not see anything smaller than a car. Sigh.
Then, one day last week, I was on the far right of 34th street and needed to get to the left-turn lane. I looked around, saw one truck waaaaay back, stuck my arm out, and crossed over to the middle, where I had to come to a stop. The driver of the truck pulled up next to me, and since we had a red light, he rolled down his window for a brief friendly chat.
Since that day, I haven't been able to bring myself to complain about the Lubbock drivers-- all because of one act of kindness. To paraphrase Maria Trapp (yes, that Maria Trapp) in her highly enjoyable book The Sound of Music, "Why do we use this magic wand so little? It would turn this world into a paradise."
01 November 2009
So, first order of business: My first full marathon is 15 weeks away. I'm running 26.2 miles on Valentine's Day. How romantic is that? I mean, Chad is running it, too, but it's not like we'll be running together. I'll probably wait for him at the finish line, but that's the extent of the romance. Perhaps we'll take along some post-race chardonnay. Ha! I thought about taking advantage of the post-race massage booth, but apparently it's bad for your muscles to get a massage immediately after.
So, I'm left with... a piece of chocolate cake at our post-race lunch? That may be the best I can do. Hmmm.
Second order of business: The Ladies' Christmas Tea is 29 days away (four weeks tomorrow!). I'm running it, and getting by with some help from my friends, for the third hit year.
Expect to hear a lot about those two things this month. And any other really bizarre thing that comes to mind.
25 October 2009
And straight after finishing an episode of Doctor Who, I get on the internet to read another story about another suicide bombing in Iraq. Talk about reality banging down around me with some serious force.
I've reflected before that I don't know why God's people aren't praying for peace. We used to ("we" in the collective sense; I wasn't actually there). I don't know what happened. I hang around with people who love the Lord all the time, and I can't remember the last time I heard a prayer for peace.
I've heard all the arguments that there will never be peace in the Middle East. I've heard that the US won't care until we experience war firsthand (collectively, again; that's not a slur on our armed forces). I've heard that it's human nature to be at war. I've heard (and agree!) that we should support our troops whether or not we support the war. I've heard blah, blah, blah.
And I know it's the overabundance of this fantasy world that I've indulged in this week that makes me so emotional over a suicide bomber. Goodness knows I've read enough similar news reports in my lifetime. But if that's what it takes to get me to pay attention to something outside my realm every now and then, so be it.
I'm praying for peace. Everywhere. I hope you'll join me.
24 October 2009
I have been taking a Facebook break this week, and I have to say, it's been great. Turns out, there are other things in life besides Facebook.
Fear not, any readers left out there; November is blog every day month. It has a cooler name than that, actually; and as far as I know, it's also write a novel every day & pray to God every day month. And, I imagine, there are a few other things thrown in for good measure.
Because, when it comes down to it, what can you do in November anyway, really? It's all dark & cold out there.
13 September 2009
So, I tried a couple of new things: 1. I wore a watch. 2. I had a plan.
Who knew that would work? Yeah, I know, every other runner on the planet.
Here's something that didn't change today: I went out too fast. Yep, my plan for mile 1 was to run it in 10:10. I looked at my watch at the 1-mile mark, saw 9:46, and said, "Oops."
Too late for fussing now; I had 5.2 miles to go. So, I slowed it down a bit, and hit the 2-mile mark in 20:09. I thought, "Perfect! But now I have to find a pace between those two."
I guess I found it; I don't remember my splits from there on out, but I turned around at 31:40ish, which meant I would have to run a negative split by a minute or two, as planned. So I was pretty much on track.
I saw Chad on the way back; he was a few minutes behind me and looking good!
I used mile 5 as a "recovery" mile-- went a bit slower than my overall planned pace so that I would be ready to lay it all out for mile 6. And that bit of the plan worked perfectly. I caught up to a couple of people who I had been trailing for the entire race, and hit the 6-mile point at just over one hour. Perfect!
It took less than two minutes to get from there to the finish, and my final time was 1:02:15-- a new PR by 42 seconds. Holy cow. (My "official" time is 1:02:20-- but they had some clock issues, so I think I may have been cheated out of a couple of seconds & it should have been more like 1:02:17.)
I don't think I can cut 42 seconds off every time, but I would be delighted to get the last 15 seconds off to get down to 1:02:00. From there, I can work on my ultimate goal to be under an hour. In the meantime, I'm going to train extra-hard to get in a sub-30-minute 5K before the end of the year.
12 September 2009
Now for the marathoners & ultras out there-- please hold your sneers. Others-- please hold your ooohs or "crazy!"s. Because truth be told, the run was neither too easy nor too hard.
I knew for the whole week leading up to Saturday what my distance would be. (I knew longer than that, actually, but I really try not to think more than a week ahead.) So, I was kind of nervous; after all, the longest I've ever run is 13.1 miles, and both times I've done that I've been rendered non-mobile for a week. Also, I knew it would take me about 3 hours (yes, I run slowly), and my fuel belt doesn't hold enough water to last that long.
So, I did take it slow. I started adding walk breaks a few weeks ago when my long runs went over 10 miles again, which helps with recovery & makes the distance less overwhelming. I chose a route that took me past stores, so I could get a refill when the time came. And Chad, who was running 6 miles on Saturday, met up with me when I had three miles to go.
I did it! Fourteen miles in three hours. This week is a recovery week, leading up to my 10K on Saturday. And the following Saturday, I do 14 again, on my way to longer (and scarier!) distances. But now, I know I can do it.
11 September 2009
The San Jose airport is almost as small as the Lubbock airport, and a lot more crowded. But they are expanding, and it's a good thing! We were warned by various internet sources to expect delays, but we got in with no problems, in part thanks to the efforts of a Continental agent who already looked pretty harried at 11 AM.
I love airports, but the problem with an airport is that after a couple of hours, they will shove you into a tin can with wings. A cramped tin can. And this one had no TVs, no movie, and no way at all for me to not be bored out of my mind. Some day, we will have children who will ask "Are we there yet" for an entire 17-hour drive to Indiana, and I really will have no right to be upset with them. But, flying is faster than driving any day, so I can't complain too much.
And our pal Kate was waiting in Lubbock to bring us home. Yay! Home!
10 September 2009
We got in the car to go home and the excitement began-- the car wasn't working. I've never heard what the problem was, but we couldn't accelerate. Rather than call AAA and wait three days (which is what Aunt Ann said was bound to happen), we decided to take it home the back way. Fortunately, the road from Pollock Pines to Placerville is all downhill. Unfortunately, the downhill stopped once we got to Placerville. So, after getting stuck (in other words, the car died) in traffic & getting some assistance from a nice young man who was just hanging out, the car came to a stop at Round Table Pizza. Chad stayed with the car & dealt with the tow truck, while the rest of us got Grandpa home.
So, that was more of an adventure than we wanted. Oops.
09 September 2009
To a large extent, the casino was just as I've always pictured them to be (ably helped by TV and movies, of course): Lots of flashing lights, lots of noise, cigarette smoke, and young women wearing as little shiny material as possible serving drinks. However, unlike the movies, there were not uber-beautiful under-25 people sitting at every machine. This was the middle-of-the-day crowd, after all, which apparently means "retired."
A highlight of the casino was the restaurant. We got the buffet, instead of the crazy-priced "gourmet" restaurant, and I gotta say, that was the best buffet food I've ever had in my life.
And after we got done, Chad found a dollar in his wallet to stick in a machine. Oooh, life in the fast lane.